Pigalle, Jean Baptiste

Pigalle, Jean Baptiste

(zhäN bätēst` pēgäl`), 1714–85, French sculptor. His skill embraced a wide range, from small works appealing to the taste of the court to large and elaborate tombs. Among the latter are the mausoleum of Marshal Maurice of Saxony, Church of St. Thomas, Strasbourg, and that of the Count d'Harcourt, Notre-Dame de Paris. In the Louvre are Love and Friendship, the Child with Cage, and the graceful Mercury Tying his Sandal, considered his masterpiece.

Pigalle, Jean Baptiste


Born Jan. 26, 1714, in Paris; died there Aug. 21, 1785. French sculptor.

In 1722, Pigalle began his artistic studies with R. Le Lorrain and J. B. Lemoyne. From 1736 to 1739 he studied in Italy. Working in a style that developed from rococo to classicism, Pigalle produced a number of statues based on mythological and allegorical themes. Such works included Mercury Tying His Sandals (marble, 1744) and The Child With the Bird Cage (marble, 1749), both of which are in the Louvre in Paris.

Pigalle combined civil fervor with an almost naturalistic truthfulness. The distinctiveness of his artistry was most impressively revealed in his tombs and monuments (Tomb of Maurice of Saxony, marble, 1753-76; St. Thomas Church, Strasbourg), in his statue of Voltaire (1776, marble; Library of the Institute of France, Paris), and in his portrait busts (busts of the collector A. Th. Desfriches and his black servant Paul, terra-cotta, c. 1760; Museum of Fine Arts, Orlíans). Pigalle represents Voltaire “heroically naked,” and the sculptor’s busts are striking in their characterization.

Pigalle’s pupils included J. A. Houdon and F. I. Shubin.


Réau, L. Jean-Baptiste Pigalle. Paris, 1950.